Conventional Plant Breeding (Pocket K No. 13)

Conventional plant breeding has been going on for hundreds of years, and is still commonly used today. Early farmers discovered that some crop plants could be artificially mated or cross-pollinated to increase yields. Desirable characteristics from different parent plants could also be combined in the offspring.

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Tissue Culture Technology (Pocket K No. 14)

Tissue culture (TC) is the cultivation of plant cells, tissues, or organs on specially formulated nutrient media. Under the right conditions, an entire plant can be regenerated from a single cell. Tissue culture is seen as an important technology for developing countries for the production of disease-free, high quality planting material and the rapid production of many uniform plants.

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'Omics' Sciences: Genomics, Proteomics, and Metabolomics (Pocket K No.15)

In crop agriculture, the main purpose of the application of genomics is to gain a better understanding of the whole genome of plants. Agronomically important genes may be identified and targeted to produce more nutritious and safe food while at the same time preserving the environment. Genomics is an entry point for looking at the other ‘omics’ sciences.

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Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops in 2014 (Pocket K No.16)

In 2014, the global area of biotech crops continued to increase for the 19th year at a sustained growth rate of 3 to 4% or 6.3 million hectares (~16 million acres), reaching 181.5 million hectares or 448 million acres (Figure 1). Biotech crops have set a precedent in that the biotech area has grown impressively every single year for the past 19 years, with a remarkable 100-fold increase since the commercialization began in 1996. Thus, biotech crops are considered as the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of modern agriculture.

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Genetic Engineering and GM Crops (Pocket K No.17)

Developing plant varieties expressing good agronomic characteristics is the ultimate goal of plant breeders. With conventional plant breeding, however, there is little or no guarantee of obtaining any particular gene combination from the millions of crosses generated. Undesirable genes can be transferred along with desirable genes; or, while one desirable gene is gained, another is lost because the genes of both parents are mixed together and re-assorted more or less randomly in the offspring.

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Ethics and Agricultural Biotechnology (Pocket K No.18)

In general, ‘ethics’ is defined as the ideals, values or standards that people use to determine whether their actions are good or bad. It is what society uses to judge whether an issue or thing is acceptable and justifiable and determines responsibility and justice (Thompson, 2001). Ethics provide guidelines that help one decide what is the right thing to do.

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Molecular Breeding and Marker-Assisted Selection (Pocket K No.19)

The differences that distinguish one plant from another are encoded in the plant’s genetic material, the DNA. DNA is packaged in chromosome pairs (strands of genetic material), one coming from each parent. The genes, which control a plant’s characteristics, are located on specific segments of each chromosome. Together, all of a plant’s genes make up its genome.

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Microbial Fermentation (Pocket K No.20)

Microbes function as both providers and defenders. They can contribute to plant nutrition by converting important macromolecules into forms usable by plants, as biofertilizers; or they can defend plants from other invasive, parasitic plants and pests, as bioherbicides and bioinsecticides.

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Gene Switching and GURTs: What, How and Why? (Pocket K No.21)

Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (“GURTs”) is an ongoing topic of discussion under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The current focus surrounding this topic concerns whether and how GURTs may impact indigenous peoples, local communities and small-holder farmers. Indeed, in the most recent debate on this topic held in February 2005, the representatives of the indigenous peoples and local communities requested clear and objective information on GURTs so that they could understand the issues and better participate in the discussion.

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Plant Disease Diagnostics (Pocket K No.22)

Is this possible? What happens when pathogens attack a plant? An attack by disease-causing organisms generates a complex immune response in a plant, resulting in the production of disease-specific proteins involved in plant defense and in limiting the spread of infection. Pathogens also produce proteins and toxins to facilitate their infection, before disease symptoms appear. These molecules play vital role in the development of plant diagnostic kits.

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Bioinformatics for Plant Biotechnology (Pocket K No.23)

Knowing the complete sequence of a plant’s genome can pave the way for all future studies of that organism. For instance, scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) are now analyzing gene expression patterns in crops such as soybean and barley, in order to determine the function of genes involved in the resistance of plants to environmental stress.

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Biotechnology for Green Energy: Biofuels (Pocket K No.24)

Plant growth can be improved by increasing the efficiency of light capture during photosynthesis (8, 9). The most successful approaches have involved introducing genes from photosynthetic bacteria into plants, without effecting changes in the level of activity of plant-specific genes. Conventional breeding techniques are therefore unsuitable for the development of crops with more efficient use of solar energy.

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